Tag Archive | Books

The Tomb at the Top of the Stairs

– A Six Sentence Story –

The attic looked much the same as it always had, the cobwebs were bigger and the dust was thicker, but it remained, as it had in her mind, a mausoleum of forgotten things and fading memories.

Being there left her with a physical ache deep inside, but the movers were on the way and if she wanted to salvage something, anything her grandmothers hands once held, she had to keep the tears from clouding her eyes and find it.

Picking things up and putting them down, she sifted through the moth eaten past packed away in boxes and stacked in precarious piles, she nearly missed the faded green volume propped almost proudly amidst generations of detritus no one could bring themselves to throw out, but like a guide, a sliver of sunlight found its way into the attic from the small vent beneath the rafters and lighted softly upon the gilt lettering decorating its spine, making it dance just for her.

The dust plumed and swirled and waltzed in the air as she gently wiped the powdery remnants of time from a beautifully illustrated copy of The Children’s Longfellow, tears again filled her eyes when she looked beneath the cover, a faded ex-librīs revealed the books lineage, her great grandmother, her grandmother, and her mother’s names were all printed there on that bookplate.

She stood and tiptoed back through everything she was leaving behind, cradling the book close to her heart, she closed the door to the tomb at the top of the stairs for the last time.

Sitting at her grandfathers desk, she carefully added her name beneath those of the women who helped shape who she’d become, leaving room enough for her own daughters name to one day be written.

* * *

My six, ever so slightly run-on sentences inspired by this weeks word from Unchartedplate.

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Therapeutic Page Turning – A year of books

1934471_10207214332490178_6824455770047232319_nI read. A lot. It’s therapeutical and just about anyone who really knows me will readily attest to my need for therapeutic intervention. Some of the greatest minds to have ever put pen to a page have lent their wisdoms and talents to greatly benefit my physical and mental well-being. My blood pressure regulates, my blood sugars lower, and my anxieties are quelled when I sit with a book in my hand.

I’ve tried other forms of treatment. I’ve driven to offices in multi-storied medical centers or cozy little cottage-like buildings and sat upon soft leather chairs, scratchy linen covered sofas, or hard plastic chairs and stared across the room at men and women with their achievements and accolades in gilded frames upon their walls, listening, or at least trying to listen, to their assessments and suggestions. They almost always sent me away with prescriptions and referrals, some of which I tried, some of which were necessary, but none of them proffered any relief without medicinal, chemical or what I felt, intrusive aide.

So with the exception of those doctors and specialists I needed to control the physical aspects of my healthcare, I stopped driving to their offices. I stopped seeking assistance in the form of degreed professionals and I sat in my own cozy, softly covered chair in my own lovely living room or beneath the soothing sun beaming down upon my porch and began to read. Reading was nothing new, I’ve devoured books throughout my life, but somehow I had forgotten the healing power of simply relaxing and drifting into another world and losing myself, as well as my worries and fears and whatever ailments are ailing me, between the covers of a book.

Some days, some weeks and months, my need is greater than others. My family often jokes that when I am on a reading bender, it means I’m crazier than usual, and often that is true. Sometimes though, I read simply for the joy of reading. Either way, it benefits me and fills a need within me.

In January I decided I’d keep track of the books I’ve read for the year. I also decided I’d write up a little review for each of them, but after reading one I’d grab another, and then another and the reviews were forgotten. I’m determined to do it still, but I have to finish my current selection first . . . we’ll see what happens.

Maybe my Books I’ve Read list will one day become a Books to be Read for my children and grandchildren and they will begin their own list for future generations of readers. I like the thought of that.

My list thus far is varied and random, as it will always be – Some months the number is higher, some lower.  I’m curious to see the picture my monthly page count paints as a reflection upon the status of my state of mind over time.

Books Read in 2016 – January & February 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – 247 pages

The Tragedy of Mr. Morn by Vladimir Nabokov – 144 pages

Iremonger, Heap House by Edward Carey – 405 pages

Foulsham, Heap House by Edward Carey – 324 pages

Lungdon, Heap House by Edward Carey – 502 pages

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – 293 pages

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Expury – 96 pages

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle – 245 pages

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury – 275 pages

Coraline by Neil Gaiman – 160 pages

The Asylum Novellas by Madeleine Roux – 337 pages

Blindness by Jose Saramago – 326 pages

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – 357 pages

The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Green – 267 pages

The Defense by Vladimir Nabokov – 256 pages

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy – 53 pages

Look at the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut – 251 pages

The Storied life of A.J. Fikry by Gabriella Zevin – 267 pages

How to Think Like daVinci by Daniel Smith – 186 pages

Candide by Voltaire – 130 pages

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – 333 pages

The Man Who Made Lists, Love, death, madness & the creation of Roget’s Thesaurus by Joshua Kendall – 294 pages

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King – 495 pages

Alice by Christina Henry – 291 pages

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame Smith – 317 pages

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick – 244 pages

Midway into March now and I have a growing stack of books to add to the list and beautifully filled shelves of books waiting to be read. I think my therapy is going well . . .

Self Medicating – A Confession

 

VintageLadies-029I have a confession to make . . . I self-medicate.

My addiction, and I readily admit it to be one, is relatively harmless. Granted, it sometimes interferes with my daily activities like keeping up with housework and feeding my family, but I manage and they accept and expect certain delays when I’m having a particularly rough patch and my need to self soothe is great.

I suppose I should begin with an explanation – the reasons I do what I do. I have spent many years in the clutches of an anxiety disorder. I battle with chronic pain and fight Diabetes and brain fog. I’m tired, so very, very tired. I’m entering year my 27th year of parenting, two of my four amazing children are autistic blessings (one with the added excitement of Bipolar), and still require a bit more assistance and guidance than most young men their age.

Sometimes I find myself in need of something more than patience and happy thoughts and all the other blah, blah, blahs we feed our psyche with, and I found a way to fulfill that need. Truthfully, I found it when I was younger than most, so it has always been a go-to of sorts for me. Honestly, while it does indeed help me deal with the not so easy parts of life, it enhances the good parts as well. It can be expensive, but I’ve found certain places where the cost is reasonable, though I confess to opting for the pricier options perhaps a bit too often. My favorite dealer is about ten miles from home, I usually go every Sunday to stock up for the week.

When (for lack of a better term) I get my * fix *, I am transported and transcended into a reality entirely different from my own – the one I find the need to escape now and then, the reality where anxiety and pain and frustration thrives. I find peace and comfort and tranquility in the altered state of consciousness I drift peacefully into when I take refuge in another world that opens itself up to embrace me when I come to the door and knock.

Hours can pass, sometimes entire days and nights in that magical place. When one journey ends and I return to my own plane of existence, I oftentimes hastily return, not yet ready to face it all. Days can be lost, but the journey is so pleasant. I always come back – eventually, though the thoughts of my return are never far from the forefront of my mind.

I wish I could describe with even some amount of accuracy and clarity what I experience each time I cross over into whatever place it is I go, but each time is different than the last. I never know what awaits me, sometimes it’s simply glorious, sometimes, though not often because I am quite careful to choose my product carefully, I am left disappointed and greedily reach for more to fulfill the still burning need within me.

I don’t want to give the impression that I live life in an always altered state. I  do all the things, well, many of the things everyone else does. I run errands, (I do partake while outside of my home quite often, never while driving of course), I watch television, (sometimes my attentions are divided, but I am able to maintain my focus even though part of me has one foot on the other side of that door), I laugh and talk with my children, sometimes they join me and we all sit together, separated only by the unique experience taking place within each of us. They don’t indulge nearly as much as I do, however. My husband abstains almost entirely, though I do try to entice him with tales of my own experiences. It doesn’t affect him the way it does me though.

I realize that my particular need and how I choose to satisfy it is not for everyone. There are those who cannot understand why I do it, or at least why I do it so often. For them, once a month or once every few months is enough. I know there are those who don’t even go near it. Personally, I think their lives, their hearts, and their minds would be better if they did. But, to each their own as they say. I’ll not stand in judgment of them, and hope they’ll not judge me.

The fact is, without this outlet – this relief – I might very well lose my mind. I truly believe, in fact, I know, it helps me focus, keeps my mind sharp and my heart calm.

jcxoxGLziYou may be wondering what my particular drug of choice might be . . . it’s books.  Glorious, wonderful, beautiful books. Words, words, and more words. I can’t get enough of them. New words, old words, classics, new authors, short books, long books, serious books, scary books, sci-fi, fantasy, memoir, biographies, auto-biographies, essays, poetry, research, history, inspirational, funny, etc., etc., etc..

There is sufficient enough research compiled to conclude that reading is akin to downing a wonder-drug of sorts. It aides in stress relief, sleep, memory, and focus – basically, all the good stuff we want to maintain.

“Reading reduced stress levels by 68 per cent, said cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis. Subjects only needed to ecM9Ao5cnread, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles, he found. In fact it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started. Listening to music reduced the levels by 61 per cent, having a cup of tea or coffee lowered them by 54 per cent and taking a walk by 42 percent.” The Telegraph 

“After reading a novel, actual changes linger in the brain, at least for a few days,”  The Washington Post

“Neurological researchers have spent years studying the impact of books on the brain. They’ve identified a compelling link between the act of chomping through a novel and enhanced cognitive ability. Reading, it transpires, has a profound effect on mental agility, the memory and our aptitude for imagination and compassion. It can also help to alleviate stress and aid sleep.  Stylist

“Snuggling up with a good read tamps down levels of unhealthy stress hormones such as cortisol,” Readers Digest

c376f75f9f5a035f59f0f3c475e61ee6”In fact, the practice of using books, poetry and other written words as a form of therapy has helped humans for centuries. Fiction is a uniquely powerful way to understand others, tap into creativity and exercise your brain.” bufferopen

“Reading for pleasure in general can also help prevent conditions such as stress, depression, and dementia,” says Wilkinson. “Research has shown that people who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers.”  “ . . .people who read books regularly “are on average more satisfied with life, happier, and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile.” A recent survey of 1,500 adult readers found that 76% of them said that reading improves their life and helps make them feel good.” Fast Company

 

Now – grab a book for your body, mind, and soul and slip into another world for a spell – I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

Book Store Story or The Complete and Utter Ruination of His Life

Yesterday I felt the need for a bit of therapeutic wandering, the best, and most therapeutic, wandering – for me, is most oft largefound in the undertaking of extensive, exploratory journeys where I dawdle, gander, meander, and mosey my way through the well-lit aisles of a bookstore. Betwixt the rows and tables and displays of beautifully bound words, my wandering turns to wonder, and my woes slowly fall like gently drifting autumn leaves. I’m left with unencumbered branches, quivering in anticipation of new growth.

Basically, I was feeling restless and sweet talked my husband into an afternoon at Barnes & Noble. By sweet talk, I mean I promised we could go to Home Depot afterward. That’s sweet of me, no? I think it’s sweet.

As soon as I walked through the doors, the smell of adventure, knowledge, and freshly brewed coffee began to peel away the layers of pent-up annoyances I’d been collecting like a suit of armor throughout the week, and as I passed the magazine racks, I began to feel like Julie Andrews on a mountain top instead of Quasimodo stuck in a bell tower. The bookstore is a magical place. I refrained from singing this time, it makes people think I’m coo-coo for cocoa puffs. I’m quite misunderstood.

One of my favorite things about the bookstore, aside from the obvious – books, books, and more books, is that I almost always leave with a story of my own to tell. I love to watch almost as much as I love to read. Everything and everyone. I silently watch and listen to those around me and collect their micro-stories in my mind, sometimes I keep them until they are forgotten or replaced, sometimes I write them down. There may be a book idea in there somewhere.

It was a little boy who caught my attention yesterday. He couldn’t have been more than seven or eight, adorable little thing with dark eyes framed with eyelashes some women would gladly give an appendage for, dark hair, an impish little smile and an armful of books. He was sporting a Captain America t-shirt, perfectly cuffed Levi’s, and a pair of red Converse sneakers, he looked liked an adorable force to be reckoned with. He stood there, trying to maintain his grip on the treasures he’d found when his dad rounded the corner.

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“Did you pick one yet?” Dad looked a little nervous, at first I thought this was odd. Turned out he was right to be a little apprehensive, he’d obviously been in this spot before. While son was dressed for a bookstore battle of epic proportions, Dad’s faded Bass Pro Shop tee and checkered shorts made him look like an already defeated casualty.

“One? Uh, no. I’ve got four.” This kid had a warrior’s stance, he was ready for battle before Dad even knew there was going to a skirmish. Then again, I think Dad knew exactly what awaited him when his little man walked through the doors of that bookstore, I don’t think he had much of a defense strategy planned out though.

“We talked about this already, one today.”

“I know, and this is a series, so it counts as one, Dad.”

“They’re $15 each! One!”

“That doesn’t even make sense, I’ll be done with one book by like tomorrow probably, and then we’ll just have to come back.”

“How about we get one or none?”

That precious little book hoarder showed no fear in the face of this threat. If anything, he looked more determined, if not a little more than annoyed.

He kept a firm grip on the books, and a firmer grip on his resolve.

He wasn’t going to back down. He knew he needed those books.

“Sure Dad. If the complete and utter ruination of my entire life is your end goal for today, then we’ll go with one.”

Dad looked like he’d taken a shot to the neck. This kid was good. Did I mention he couldn’t have been more than eight years old? I love kids who read, they know how to use words.

Then he fired the final shot, “Besides, Mom said I could get them, so . . .”

Victory.

Dad defeated, books in hand, little-reader-man left the battlefield and made a beeline for the register before Dad could figure out what had just hit him.

My day ended with a venti iced coffee, a new Stephen King book – The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and new gutters. I keep my promises and collected another story at the Home Depot, but I’m saving that one for later.

I have failed as a parent. I raised animals.

Proof.

Proof I am a failed parent. I thought I was a good mother. I thought I raised them well and right and good, and then this happens. I don’t even know where I went wrong.

Devastated.

I am devastated.

They are animals, all of them. Well, at least one of them. I don’t know who did this, but I have a pretty good idea.

How could he? Why? WHY?

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There is a pot on my books.

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They put a pot atop my BOOKS!

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A POT . . . on my BOOKS!

What to read? Maybe these? Yes!

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I typically read at least a couple of books a week, maybe more if I have time or just can’t put them down, in which case I steal moments and minutes whenever I can to lose myself between the covers of whatever book called out to me – This week I’m spending my treasured reading time with some familiar voices . . . voices I’ve enjoyed getting to know in Blogtopia and Facebookville.

I’m not quite certain which one to begin with, I think I’ll do the ole eeny-meeny-miney-moe-catch-a-writer-by-the-toe to choose. My picks-of-the-week are . . . .

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There are rumours that I keep a writer trapped in my basement… but I assure you… Jessica is and always was here of her own free will. Until one day she disappeared, and I began to realize that everything I thought I knew about her was wrong. Everyone has a terrifying story about Jessica B. Bell. Some of them are even true.”

You can get your copy of Jessica here.

Come meet Helena Hann Basquiat here.

by Sara Litchfield

“It is always dark. Warmer than it should be. The sun is a dull glower of reproach, only sometimes visible through the fallout. A once-majestic university town is crumbled, ashen and divided. The Men have made their home the Facility, where they develop the medication to combat the radiation that would otherwise kill those left alive.

Another day at school for Teacher. Another morning of bullying and torment from a batch of doll-like triplets more violent and unbalanced by the day. They are the nightmare product of Project Eden, the operation devised by Leader for the survival of the community, seeded in the Mothers without their consent.
Teacher has hope. She has a secret. When it is uncovered by Jimmy-1, a triplet who might be different, what will it mean for his future and hers?”
You can get your copy of The Night Butterflies here.
~
Come check out Sara Litchfield here.
~

dear-stephanie

“Paige Preston wants to end her life. After an unsuccessful attempt, she lands herself in mandatory therapy with a sexy psychiatrist. When he and an even more alluring friend begin to help her break down the walls she’s spent a lifetime building, Paige begins to see something bigger than herself. Is it enough to pull her out of her dark world and help her finally feel like a human? Or will letting someone in be the final step toward her demise?Dear Stephanie is a sinfully addictive walk through a world of beauty, affluence, and incidental love that effortlessly moves the reader between laughter, tears, heartache, and hope with the turn of every “Paige”.

You can get your copy of Dear Stephanie here.

Visit Mandi Castle’s blog!

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“Take a ride on the wild side in the nuthouse that Marcia Kester Doyle calls home. From couples’ colonoscopies to nightmare holidays to disappearing spandex, no topic—no matter how crazy or unimaginable—is off-limits. Who Stole My Spandex? Midlife Musings from a Middle-Aged MILF is a witty selection of stories from the author’s madcap world of menopausal pitfalls, wardrobe malfunctions, and a family full of pranksters. This clever compilation includes laugh-out-loud pieces like “Queen of Klutz,” “One Size Fits None,” and “Hands off my Egg Roll!” With a heavy dose of self-deprecating humor, and just a dash of sentiment, this marvelous collection of anecdotes will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt the call of nature at exactly the wrong time. This is rogue humor at its finest!”

You can get your copy of Who Stole My Spandex here.

Click to visit Marcia Kester Doyle’s blog.

punch

“Jen Mann doesn’t have a filter, which sometimes gets her in trouble with her neighbors, her fellow PTA moms, and that one woman who tried to sell her sex toys at a home shopping party. Known for her hilariously acerbic observations on her blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Mann now brings her sharp wit to bear on suburban life, marriage, and motherhood in this laugh-out-loud collection of essays. From the politics of joining a play group, to the thrill of mothers’ night out at the gun range, to the rewards of your most meaningful relationship (the one you have with your cleaning lady), nothing is sacred or off-limits. So the next time you find yourself wearing fuzzy bunny pajamas in the school carpool line or accidentally stuck at a co-worker’s swingers party, just think, What would Jen Mann do? Or better yet, buy her book.”

You can get your copy of People I Want to Punch in the Throat here.

Check out Jen Mann’s blog too!